Business x Pleasure—West Coast Invitational And ThirtyTwo Annual Focus Group

Slushy snow, sunny skies, and an all-star lineup of invited pros and talented up-and-comers add up to a hell of a good time. This year’s 10th annual West Coast Invitationl (WCI) at Mammoth Mountain was no exception and Transworld Business headed out to mix a bit of pleasure with business. ThirtyTwo Snowboards conveniently holds its annual focus groups in Mammoth on the same weekend as the West Coast Invitational. Now that is what we call multi tasking…

But before we got down to business, there was partying to be had. It started on a sunny bluebird Friday on May 6th. The crowds came out to watch the riders battle it out on a course full of crazy wall ride features at the Eddie Wall Ride.  On Saturday, May 7 the craziness continued in the The Village for the evening Rail Jam where the pro’s took on a three-story high jib set-up for a shot at the huge cash purse of $10,000.

Eddie Wall Ride

As the weekend drew to a close, we sat down with ThirtyTwo’s Sales and Merchandising Manager Brad Alband and picked his brain about what is to come for ThirtyTwo and how the focus groups serve a purpose in developing the future of ThirtyTwo Snowboards.

Why is ThirtyTwo in Mammoth for the WCI weekend?

ThirtyTwo conducted a global focus group for the Fall 2012 boots and apparel line. The main purpose of the focus groups is to gather our reps from Canada, United States, and Europe and bring together their expertise on all their regions so that we can develop a line that can talk to everyone across the globe and not just the US based market.  It breaks us out of the SoCal bubble and allows us to see the upcoming line from all perspectives.

When did ThirtyTwo start doing this annul focus group and why did you choose Mammoth Mountain?

We started it a few years ago, and we chose Mammoth because we have a partnership with the mountain. In addition ThrityTwo has been throwing parties at the WCI event and rail jam for almost ten years; so it’s a natural fit.  The combination of work and play makes for a special weekend for our reps, the trip is a bit of a reward for all their hard work and everyone appreciates to be able to come ride in May. It bookends the season and wraps everything up with a fun time with our buddies.

What is the overall goal of this year’s ThirtyTwo focus group?

The overall goal is to nail down 90% of the line, and then we will go back and tweak the last 10% of the line and send out overviews to everyone for final review.  That being said, we always leave a little wiggle room for the people back at Sole Tech to make some executive decisions and that leaves a little bit of leeway for what we feel we should be doing and not just 100% sales feedback. Given all that, the 2012 line will be pretty much wrapped up by the end of May.

What was the most obvious takeaway from the focus groups for you?

Coming to these focus groups and having the involvement of everyone hammer home that we are on the right track. We can’t get caught thinking we need to get into $400 jackets when the reps say, “hey, we are selling $180 jackets”.

What trends will we be seeing from ThirtyTwo for the 2012 season?

Themes centered on classic athletic looks, lots of black/gold, navy/red, and green/white combinations. We also brought in some prints to our design, which we have not done in the past. It is our twist on prints, which I think is more towards skate with tea stain and camo so it lends itself more towards a skate twist.

Overall in apparel, there is a tinge of military feel across the line.

Is ThrityTwo continuing to grow despite the tough recession?

Yes we are. We have grown in outwear and have grown in boots. I think that the lack of product in the market that got cleared out with all the good snow this year have put a lot of snow brands in a good position, or a better position than they were in two years ago. I think we are taking over floor space with outwear and I think we are holding our own in the boot world. We are in the top three at any given shop and we are starting to scale our SKU’s back with some of our boot stories. Our pro riders each have a signature color and I think those things hit home with a lot of our core shops.